As it’s Mental Health Awareness Week, I’ve decided to write briefly about one of the conditions I suffer with. I have written about Psychotic Depression, which I also suffer from, and have blogged openly about my journey through grief; sometimes in prose, sometimes through poetry.
Depression and anxiety have been a part of me, my life for the past few years. I have developed PTSD since losing my 5 year old son, Ned, in a car crash last year.
I was aware of the term PTSD before. I had read a little about it, heard it discussed, primarily with regards to soldiers returning from war. I never really understood it, not until it grabbed hold of me and has been eating away at me for the past year.
The diagnosis was made by my psychiatrist a couple of months after the horrific crash that shattered my whole world. I have suffered a massive trauma and am unable to ‘recover’ from this. I have counselling and medication to help, and am due to start psychology next month.
But what does it mean? What is it like to live with this disorder?
For me, it means re-living the car crash over and over and over. Even though I wasn’t there, I can visualise the accident so clearly and can’t get the horrific images out of my head. I see my little boy thrown forward with such force in his seat that he died from catastrophic liver damage. I wake in the night wailing for my little boy.
When I’m driving, I ‘see’ the car in front of me veer over the white line and crash head-on. My heart races, my stomach clenches with fear, I start to sweat and tears fall.
Day after day after day I relive this horror.
I search for answers to the relentless battering of questions in my head. Why? Why did it happen? Why couldn’t they save him? What have I done that’s so bad that I’ve had my little boy taken from me? Why did I let him go? Why wasn’t I there for my little boy? Why wasn’t I there to hush and soothe and hold his little hand? Why? Why? Why? It’s like an angry swarm of wasps buzzing in my head. I pull at my hair, I bang my head against the wall but they won’t stop. It’s torture.
I’ve been told that I have ritualised certain behaviours in order to cause myself more pain. I visit the roadside every month to place flowers. I visit Ned’s grave every night to tell him how sorry I am. I can’t not do these things. They’re all I can do for my son now; the only care that I can show him.
I’ve been asked if I believe that I should suffer? Yes, yes I do believe that I should. I let my little boy die. I failed him in the worst possible way. He didn’t get to live beyond 5 years of age because of me – that’s what PTSD tells me.
It is, quite simply, a living hell. I’ve tried self-harming behaviours to relieve the pain, but they don’t work. They numb me for a short while, nothing more.
Perhaps psychology will help me better come to terms with what has happened to us. I don’t know. The only certainty that I do have is that my heart has been shattered; an explosion of fragments like the stars in the night sky that happened when I was told that my little boy had died. And I know that my heart won’t be fixed until the day I am with my little Ned again. When that will be, I don’t know. But the day will come when I have my precious angel back in the safety of my arms, and when that day comes, I will never let go of him again.